What is a Section 504 Plan? – Does My Student Qualify for One?
- Receives services under IDEA but needs a medical health plan, positive behavior plan or other school services
- Has been evaluated for eligibility under IDEA and found ineligible
- Previously received services under IDEA and is determined to no longer be eligible
- Is found eligible for services under IDEA but parents refuse consent
- Has received services under IDEA and parents decide to discontinue services
Section 504 is a federal law designed to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities in programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Education. Section 504 states: “No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States . . . shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance . . . .”
- Public and Charter Schools
- Public Colleges and Universities including Utah Colleges of Applied Technology
- Federal & State Government Departments & Agencies
- County & Community Programs including community recreation programs
However, following its enactment, some of the fundamental provisions of the ADA were narrowed by Supreme Court rulings. The rulings (most notably Sutton v. United Airlines, 1999 and Toyota Motor Manufacturing v. Williams, 2002) served to limit the scope of opportunities and protections that were originally intended Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) (effective January 1, 2009) Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Congress responded to this constriction by passing the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008, which included a conforming amendment (a legislative procedure used to make an old law be consistent with the new law) to Section 504. The ADAAA became effective on January 1, 2009.
- With a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, or
- Who has a record of such an impairment, or
- Who is regarded as having such impairment.
For example, whether or not a student with a condition such as depression, diabetes, asthma, or anxiety that is in remission is “substantially limited” would need to be determined when the student’s condition is active. Also, Congress clarified that the decision of whether an individual has a disability should not entail an extensive analysis and that it should be expansive.
- Caring for oneself
- Performing manual tasks
- Non-volitional bodily functions
- Functions of the immune system
- Cell growth
- Digestive, bladder, and bowel functions
- Neurological and brain functions
- Respiratory and circulatory functions
- Endocrine functions
- Reproductive functions
- The individual needs of the person with a disability should be met to the same extent as the needs of a person without disabilities.
- Accommodations should place the person with a disability at an equal starting level with the nondisabled.
- Provide written assurance of nondiscrimination
- Designate a 504 Coordinator
- Provide grievance procedures to resolve complaints
- Provide notice of nondiscrimination in admission or access to its programs or activities, notice must be included in student/parent handbook.
- Identify and locate annually all qualified children with disabilities who are not receiving a public education
- Notify annually persons with disabilities and their parents or guardians of the district’s responsibilities under Section 504
- Provide parents or guardians with procedural safeguards
- Conduct a self-evaluation of school district policies, programs, and practices to make sure discrimination is not occurring
- Prior to eligibility determination
- Who needs accommodations in the general education classroom
- To determine needed services
- Prior to any significant change in placement
- The student’s problem(s) should be considered
- All previous classroom remedies and data considered and reviewed
- All current information and remedies are then summarized by the Section 504 Team which includes parents
A Section 504 Team can be used. Another recommended practice that has worked for many schools is the Teacher Assistance Team (interventions team or pre-referral team) as the Section 504 team or committee.
- Student (if appropriate)
- School Level 504 Coordinator
- Regular Educator(s)
- School Psychologist or someone to interpret assessments
- Evaluation results
- Section 504 eligibility
- The student’s disability
- The student’s unmet needs
- Services and/or accommodations based on eligibility
- If the student has a reading disability that requires recorded materials
- Accommodations and modifications to use in classroom and on exams
- Positive Behavior Supports
- Health Care Plan
- Discuss and plan possible options
- Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) for services
- Staff in-service
- Modify assignments and tests
- Provide an extra set of textbooks for home use
- Adjust student seating
- Use study guides and organizing tools
- Provide a peer tutor/helper
- Provide recorded books
- Provide school counseling
- Provide untimed tests or oral tests
- Have the student use an organizer
- Train in organizational skills
- Modify recess/PE/transportation
|Purpose||A Civil Rights Act that gives individuals with disabilities the opportunity to fully participate with their peers to the greatest extent possible.||An Education Act, that provides a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) to children who qualify under one or more of the 14 broad categories|
|Responsibility||General Education||Special Education|
|Funding||Provides no additional funding||Provides additional federal funding to states and school districts|
|Covers||All persons with disabilities||Ages 3-21|
|Administration||Section 504 Coordinator||Special Education Director|
|Service Plan||Accommodation Plan||Individualized Education Program|
|Disabilities||Any disability, if eligible||14 qualifying categories|
|Parents||Should be involved in all team meetings||Must be involved in all team meetings|
|Procedural Safeguards||Notice of consent of parents is required||Parent consent and notice required for initial evaluation, placement, and reevaluation|
|Evaluation and Eligibility||An evaluation is necessary before it can be determined if a child is eligible under Section 504. Documentation can be gathered from a variety of sources instead of completing a formal school evaluation.||Evaluation draws on information from a variety sources in the area of concern. A group decision (including parents) is made with persons knowledgeable about the student, evaluation data and placement options. Written prior notice and informed parent consent are required to evaluate.|
|Requirements for Delivering Services||
Does not require a written plan but does require written documentation that services were provided. Requires the school to provide reasonable accommodations, supports and auxiliary aides.
Defines “Appropriate Education” as comparable to the one provided to general education students.
Requires a written Individualized Education Program (IEP).
Defines “Appropriate Education” as a program reasonably calculated to provide “educational benefit” to the student.
- Utah Parent Center http://www.utahparentcenter.org or by calling 801.272.1051 or Toll-Free 1.800.468.1160
- Utah State Office of Education, Office of Education Equity http://www.schools.utah.gov/equity/
- U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, Protecting Students With Disabilities: Frequently Asked Questions About Section 504 and the Education of Children with Disabilities http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/504faq.html
- Job Accommodation Network (JAN) at http://askjan.org/links/atoz.htm See Disability A-Z
- National Center for Learning Disabilities: Understanding the Americans
with Disabilities Act Amendments Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act http://www.ncld.org/images/stories/Publications/AdvocacyBriefs/UnderstandingADAAA-Section504/UnderstandingADAAA-Section504.pdf
- Environmental strategies make adjustments to the student’s environment.
- Organizational strategies make adjustments to lessons, assignments and testing.
- Behavior strategies make behavior modification adjustments for student.
- Presentation strategies make adjustments to how information is presented to the student.
- Methodology Strategies make adjustments to the instructional methods and pace.
- Curriculum Strategies make adjustment to the amount, type and presentation of material.